Over the last year or so I have been exploring my family tree. It’s been a great journey and I started out thinking I would create a “tree” and be satisfied. What has happened, though, is that I have uncovered a richness in stories that I could never have hoped for. Finding out where I have come from has been for me, very therapeutic.
This afternoon I received a paper written by Colin Knox entitled “Maori Leadership in Te Ao Maori”: “The most important difference [between Maori and Pakeha leadership models] is its source of inspiration and motivation, which is its common ancestry and history…..Another difference is the relative importance of family over individuality”.
The concept of Whakapapa is relating to “people with whom we have a common ancestry, cherishing places such as marae as the symbolic home and sharing on the basis of kinship rather than legal responsibility or ownership, acknowledging the importance of our ancestors”.
I couldn’t help but relate what I read here with my own journey. Appreciating where I have come from, learning the family stories and history has, I am certain, made me feel more authentic. Whether I appear that way is for others of course. Something switched in me when I read Colin’s paper: an instantly deeper appreciation of what Maori mean when they say Whakapapa. Why had I not grasped this previously? Secondly, the relationship between our ancestry – where do I come from? – and our own journey is stark.
In my desire to develop authenticity, there is only one place to start – myself – and my ancestry has been, as I am certain it is for others, a deep and valuable part of that journey. My insights have come from my own work and, as is often the case, from an unexpected source, adding richness and depth all round.